It’s a tricky thing, wanting to make jam when you live in New York City. Good fruit in jammable quantities is expensive, far more expensive than buying an equivalent amount of really good jam. But without a car, you can’t get anywhere to pick your own. And we don’t have a car. So I go on wistfully reading preserving sites and books and continue to buy the jam we eat.
But this weekend the stars aligned. A vacationing friend lent us his car for a week, the weather was gorgeous, and it’s peak strawberry season in New Jersey. Using this site, I found a place about an hour away (Sunhaven Farm, Hillsborough; no website) that seemed to function exclusively as a farm, rather than an activity-packed family fun day destination. I get why those places exist, but I don’t need to pay the bouncy-castle surcharge when I just want to breeze in, get my berries, and GTFO.
We brought home just under eight pounds.
Since we had the car, we took a little detour to Princeton so one of us could pay homage at the Record Exchange and the other could indulge at The Bent Spoon (blood orange sorbet and sour cream ice cream = best creamsicle ever).
I washed and prepped all the berries when we got home, setting about ten cups aside for jam, and leaving the rest for eating. Then we headed up to Prospect Park, where Dum Dum Girls were playing a free show. One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, The Farm on Adderley, has the concession at the park’s free music series, so I was able to get some really good food, which I needed pretty badly at that point, having had mostly strawberries and ice cream so far that day: a codfish sandwich and crisp-tender garlicky broccoli.
I made the jam Sunday morning. It was my first time using Pomona’s pectin, and I’m converted. The amount of sugar you have to use with traditional pectin is just staggering, typically equal to the amount of fruit. Pomona’s jelling isn’t sugar-dependent, so I just used 2.5 cups with 10 cups of fruit and it was plenty sweet.
I got five and a half pints in the end.
Somewhere recently, I saw someone mention throwing their strawberries tops in a pitcher and steeping them with water. Turns out, it’s delicious, especially when you mix the strawberry water with a splash of elderflower cordial for the summeriest drink possible.
Sunday afternoon, while the jam was cooling, we took a quick trip to the beach at Jacob Riis Park and were back in time to watch the USA v. Portugal match with some friends.